A word from Nick Phan, our competitive GM:
Mannnn, it’s been a long day. It’s literally just been barely over a day since Noah and I arrived in Wuhan to be with the guys. Coming in, giving everyone hugs and sitting around that dinner table last night for one last time with all of our pajama decked gentlemen was a familial moment I’ll never really forget.
Unfortunately we took a beating today and though I’m sure it disappointed many of our fans as well as us internally, it’s really mostly disappointment at how bummed each of our players/staff members were to have to exit Worlds this early.
It’s funny, but to some degree Dardoch was right. When we sat down to evaluate our team going into summer split, it was with the main priority and focus to stabilize and to get things done right. Mind you, that didn’t necessarily have to include being top NALCS playoff contenders or Worlds qualifiers/contenders. To be honest, something I haven’t felt in my time in esports is the passion and the diligence needed to really build the right foundation and get things done the right way. Although I throw the word “right” around ambiguously and casually, that was my biggest goal personally. I decided to stay in esports because I wanted to find a way to impact the way this industry looked at player development and identified the right layers and pieces to team and culture building.
But this one isn’t really about me. That’s an insight to what we wanted to do with this IMT League of Legends team. Controversially at the beginning we made the Dardoch/Xmithie swap, we brought in Ssong, and in the eyes of many external fans it seemed like we rolled over and died. But holy hell did our team exceed beginning-of-split expectations and impress upon not only myself but all of our fans and spectators that they could be an underrated force to be reckoned with. And for so long this summer split, they were. I don’t think you’ll ever know how much work it took for each player to put aside their differences (even though they might still have those differences and certain gripes) to just make it work. The whole way through, in all of our successes and failures, our team responded with humility, and with diligence to just keep pushing and proving ourselves. The countless hours I knew our coaching/analytics staff was putting in each day, and each week to try to set this team up for success – man, that kept me and I’m damn sure that kept Noah up grinding our asses 24/7 to do our jobs to make sure we could support everything in the best way possible.
Foundation and organizational success and leadership are not always permanent things. They’re things you have to sustain and they’re concepts and vision projects that are extremely dynamic and take so much time to foster. But these players, and this set of staff amaze me – it’s not perfect but I haven’t seen a team that can still bicker about small things come together as a family and as a team quite like this one. You can ask everyone in our organization, from Noah to all of our amazing business staff to myself, to the League of Legends staff, just anyone that’s gotten a chance to see them grow this split: I don’t have all the answers but somehow the pieces just clicked and this team – at least in our eyes – was a family.
I love every single one of these players and staff members. They fought day after day, week after week to figure each other out and to be noteworthy and achieve something bigger than themselves, despite kinks and difficulties with adjustments. I’m sad to see them sad; I’m bummed to see them so bummed because there were factors that were in our control. But today we weren’t the deserving team and even still, I’m proud as hell of this team. They went further than anyone really gave them credit for and we’ve essentially helped each other begin to build a culture that is more akin to where we see the future of competitive esports. These guys are going to bounce back stronger than ever, I’m sure of it. It’s in their blood to be fighters. I guess this year, we’ve all gotten a chance to see that. That’s just sort of what being an Immortal is all about.
So hang your heads higher than you are doing right now – that’s to my players, my staff, and to our fans. We made it all the way here together and it’s been wild. As we will always do, let’s come back stronger like we know we will.
Hopefully, we’ll be back to see you all next season. Thanks for being with us on this wild ride so far. And so the adventure begins…